While the world is being locked down, is your life going through a major shakeup?
It is undeniably true that the Covid-19 pandemic is a great disruptor. The shutters have come down on many businesses, some for good. Many self-employed persons are going through months of zero-income. Families are thrown into disarray as schools are closed. You open up the news, and the number of infected patients is growing at a dizzying speed.
This unwanted, unwelcomed shakeup exposes the vulnerabilities of our lives and livelihood. In such situations of crisis, some will be paralysed by fear, while others emerge from it stronger. Question is, which will you be?
At The Style Atelier, we are not unfamiliar with disruptions. Being a people-centric business, we thrive on face-to-face engagements. (Last year alone, we ran over 90 presentations, produced digital content for beauty brands and even executive-produced an entire marketing campaign.) 2020 appeared to be the cusp of success. Then coronavirus hit. And it all came to a halt.
We Chose to Step Out.
During this difficult time, we found it hard to run business as usual, much less to execute our plans for expansion. But it is also a moment of déjà vu for us, as we face the challenge of grasping with an uncertain future, just as we did when we left our jobs to start this business.
Not many people know this, but Joy and I have been educators for a large part of our careers. Joy has taught in the junior college and polytechnic, and I have lectured in the polytechnic and university. Between us, we have close to two decades of teaching experience. But in 2017, we took the plunge and left our stable jobs to run The Style Atelier full-time. To move in the direction of our true purpose, we decided to give up the safe confines of our comfort zones- even when there was no obvious external disruptors then.
In the beginning, we dreamt big but started small. We first offered makeup and hairstyling services. Soon, we realised that we could combine our niche in education and professional styling, and kickstarted what we are perhaps best known for today-- running a series of ‘beauty education campaigns’ that embraces diversity, inspires wellness and is informed by science. Our goal? To make beauty relatable, relevant and accessible to everyone again.
If brands were sceptical at first, many eventually became our biggest supporters. With more curriculum and content development, writing course objectives and pedagogical approaches, we were going back to our roots in education.
And, We Chose to Level Up.
Simultaneously, we decided to leverage on our experience and expertise to expand our offerings for corporate training. Our repertoire grew to include: business protocol, networking skills, dining etiquette, interview skills and psychometric coaching. We even scored a national funding to run a series of workshops for the public to learn about cultures through food!
Although Joy and I know how to sell beauty, we have not yet taken the metacognitive step to sell a training programme to teach ‘how we sell’ earlier on in our business. Somehow, beauty companies picked this up and wanted us to train their sales representatives. Long story cut short, we finally sat down and put together an entire programme that trains sales personnel in the psychology of sales, sales strategies, sales language and a myriad of demonstrations. Even though it looked like something that fell into our laps by accident, in reality, it is an accumulation of our years of honing our skills working on the ground.
Today, We Choose to Scale Up.
Although our work, as you have read above, took us painstaking toil to accomplish, yet an invisible virus today threatens to render it naught. But pandemic or not, a growing business is one that is ever-evolving; we can only summon courage at this time, and do our best to move forward. This is perhaps what Steve Jobs was talking about. “You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backward.” In this period of stillness, it became very clear to us that the heart of The Style Atelier is education. So in our next lap, we want to build a school that inspires you, and other kindred folks, to live your best lives and be your best selves.
It may all sound crazy at this point, but it is the same kind of crazy we felt when we made the decision to leave our cushy jobs years ago. The situation may be different, but the desire to overcome the odds, to be and do better, remains the same.
We are all ready to invent a new ‘schooling’ experience to inspire you with better beauty, wellness and lifestyle. Please watch this space as we reveal more details of our latest project to you soon.
If the current coronavirus situation is challenging you in unprecedented ways too, please know that our hearts are with you. We encourage you to see the opportunities that may lie in this seemingly hopeless situation. As you might already know, for a star to be born, a gaseous nebula must first collapse. So collapse. Crumble. This may not be your destruction; it could be your birth.
We are rooting for you. Violet and Joy